Sykes puzzled that he didn't qualify for HD70
Pastor Manuel Sykes wasn't going to drop out of this time. The influential St. Petersburg Baptist minister and civil rights activist told the Tampa Bay Times last week that nothing would dissuade him from exiting a crowded field of Democrats vying for the nod in House District 70.
In 2014, Sykes considered jumping in the 13th Congressional District race before a voice mail message from the then-county party chairman --telling Sykes he'd be "persona non grata" if he got in---touched off an intraparty squabble.
"I won't be daunted this time, I'm not kissing the rings of anyone this time," Sykes told the Times last week. He said he planned to officially file as a Democrat by Friday's deadline.
But when the deadline passed, Sykes wasn't among the qualified candidates. Former St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton, St. Petersburg businessman Dan Fiorini and attorney CJ Czaia ended up comprising the Democratic field.
Sykes said Monday he had no idea. He said he mailed a check to the state Division of Elections in Tallahassee on Thursday with guaranteed overnight delivery. He said he has proof that someone in that office signed for it around 9:30 a.m. Friday, a few hours before the deadline.
Repeated calls to the election division office haven't cleared things up yet, Sykes said.
The division's spokeswoman didn't immediately return a Times phone call.
Sykes says he is weighing his options, but wants answers from the state.